In 1948, you could buy your very own Land Rover. If you wanted to visit the company, that’s where a problem arose. Land Rover as a company didn’t exist until 30 years after ‘HUE166’ the first Land Rover rolled off the production line. You were merely buying a rebadged Rover. Considered to be a product line of Rover, which was then purchased in 1967 by Leyland Motor Corporation. A year later Leyland was absorbed into the British Leyland Motor Corporation as part of the Rover-Triumph division.
Five years after the introduction of the Range Rover in 1970, British Leyland Motor Corporation were in financial turmoil causing the company to collapse and be nationalised. A report was issued by Sir Don Ryder under agreement of the Government of the United Kingdom known as the ‘Ryder Report’ where it was recommended that British Leyland treat Land Rover as a separate company forming part of their commercial vehicle group.
Land Rover’s one millionth vehicle rolled off the line in 1976 and two years later in 1978, Land Rover Limited was formed as a separate company from British Leyland. Since Land Rover’s inception in 1947 by Maurice Wilks, the Solihull plant was shared by Land Rover and its Rover counter parts. In 1980, this all changed. Rover stopped producing cars at the Solihull plant and it was left solely to Land Rover.
In this era, Land Rover started restructuring, bringing all of their elements of vehicle production under one roof and improving their products with the likes of the 90/110/127 being introduced to the market. British Leyland group became Rover Group plc in 1986 including Austin Rover Group, Freight Rover, Leyland Trucks and Land Rover Group.
British Aerospace purchased Rover Group plc in 1988, when the group was being privatised for a fee of £150 million. When the deal was audited, it was found that the Rover Group was seriously undervalued. Ford were brought in to value the company and it was given a serious valuation of £800 million. A year later, the Land Rover Discovery was launched and proved to be a great success in the market.
BMW, went ahead and purchased Rover from British Aerospace within ten days of opening negotiations in 1994. Under BMW, Land Rover released the second generation Range Rover, Discovery and also brought out a new product known as the Freelander.
After owning Rover for six years, BMW started incurring immense losses. This led the company to start selling off the Rover group. The Rover plant was sold for as little as £10. BMW sold off Land Rover to Ford for £1.8 billion in 2000 and decided to keep the ‘Mini’ brand to reinvent it. This was the first time Rover and Land Rover were not sold as a unit.
Under Ford’s ownership, The third generation of Range Rover and Discovery were released among the new Range Rover Sport. Jaguar cars had been under Ford’s ownership since 1989. In 2005, the Rover brand collapsed and rights to the name were bought by Ford and the two brands were re-united. When Rover was reunited with Land Rover, Jaguar was brought into the same line. The Rover brand was bought after BMW tried to sell the Rover name to SIAC, Shanghai Automotive Corp, a Chinese automaker for fear of lowering the Land Rover brand.
Seven years on and a global recession hitting hard, Ford had to do its utmost to stay afloat. Funding by the government was not enough and announced that it will sell Land Rover and Jaguar to a suitable buyer. A number of Indian companies and global financial sponsors showed interest in purchasing the brands. A year into negotiations and Tata Motors purchase both Jaguar and Land Rover brands for £1.5 billion in 2008. Ford still had to make a massive $600 million payout to Tata for shortfalls in pension plans.
Jaguar Land Rover was created as a company after the purchase by Tata. Both companies have been doing immensely well, Land Rover hired 1500 more staff in 2011 to help produce their new product, The Evoque. Millions have been invested into the company for manufacturing. Since the Tata take over, it has breathed new life into Land Rover with release of the Evoque in 2011, the fourth generation Range Rover, second generation Range Rover Sport and the fourth generation Discovery. The company is turning a profit since 2010 and doesn’t look like it is going to slow down any time soon.
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